When considering Academy conversion for your school, understanding the potential issues from the outset is key to a successful and cost-effective conversion. Our top ten tips for converting schools are:
- Liaise with the governors to discuss the proposed conversion
- You are not alone! Liaise with schools that have recently converted. Discuss the process and alleviate concerns
- Consult with staff, parents and other stakeholders before commencing the conversion process. Ensure all parties understand the process and address any concerns
- Liaise with the Council at an early stage. Some Councils have little experience of academy conversions and/or limited resources. Providing the Council with prior notice will assist in preventing delays, enabling Councils to properly resource conversion work
- Make contact with the Department for Education (DfE). Ensure the caseworker is aware of your objectives and any concerns you have. Keep the DfE fully informed
- Decide upon your preferred date for conversion and discuss with the DfE
- Determine any particular objectives you want to achieve and when you make decisions, stick with them. Other parties may try to encourage you to change decisions made. Stand firm if your decisions have been taken to achieve a particular objective or to ensure a certain conversion date
- Obtain a clear understanding of the school land and obtain a plan of the site, confirm ownership and details of third-party rights affecting the land – consider caretaker’s rights and recent works
- Undertake due diligence. Know what contracts the school benefits from and the assets it uses. Compile lists and share with the Council
- Appoint legal advisors to explain and negotiate the provisions in the conversion documentation, draft ancillary documents and advise on any areas of concern.
Walker Morris offers a free no-obligation telephone consultation to schools considering converting to academy status. Our Academies Team has experience in converting schools across England, including community, VC, VA and foundation schools, whether converting to single or multi-academy trusts, with a range of issues including governance structure; land arrangements including joint ownership, community use, nurseries and children’s centres, caretakers houses, swimming pools and leisure facilities; building works, PFI and BSF; Sport England and Big Lottery funding; and loan arrangements.